Meet the CEO is a weekly feature on TechCentral. The aim is to introduce our readers to the people behind the news by providing insights into the leaders shaping South Africa’s ICT industry. Our latest interview in the series is with Pierre Spies, CEO JSE-listed technology group Alviva Holdings. We hope you enjoy it. — Duncan McLeod, Editor
What was your first-ever job (please elaborate on what it involved)?
I was a packer at Checkers. I remember it so well — I was only 15 years old and a few months later I was promoted to work in the deli. That was my first work promotion!
Who is your greatest role model, and why?
My parents. They have always been super supportive through thick and thin. I believe they played a big part in me being successful.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Square pegs is square holes. Get the right people for the role. It might take longer but it will be well worth it.”
What phone do you currently use, and why?
Samsung Note 8. Samsung is simply better and more reliable than Apple. I know: I tried Apple twice. 🙂
What are you currently reading?
I admit that I am not an avid reader. I’m dyslectic — with letters, fortunately not numbers — and really struggle to read. I am, however, a visual person and therefore prefer to watch movies.
What’s your favourite movie?
My favourite movies are Gladiator, and the James Bond series. I also love comedy series such as Friends, Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory.
What is your most treasured possession?
Possessions are not important it is the principle. I love my family. My family is my everything and therefore everything I do draws back to what’s best for them.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have been in the fortunate position to be part of building various successful ICT companies in various roles, starting as an accountant and working my way through the ranks to CEO, first of Tarsus, then Axiz and Pinnacle, and now through to Alviva.
What is your greatest regret?
Not being a bit more assertive in my position earlier. I wish I took up senior positions earlier in my career.
How do you cope with stress?
I have been very fortunate that I am able to “switch off “when I walk out of your work environment. As soon as I arrive home after a busy day at work, I switch off and I focus on family and then “switch back on” as soon as I get back in my car in the morning. You have to. It is vital for balance work and family.
What skill or talent would you most like to possess that you don’t already?
I would really like to be able to play piano or guitar or sing on key. Unfortunately, I’m completely tone deaf!
What phrase do you most use/overuse in business?
“Lead by example” is what comes up first, but most of my executives will probably say they hear the words: “Ahhh, no man!” They feel I am never satisfied with a result. Not much seems good enough as I am always is pursuit of doing things better.
What’s your favourite place in the world, and why?
The US, without a doubt — especially Texas and Florida. One of our sons lives in California; the other is in Prague. It’s sad, I know, but we travel to the US as a family as often as we can. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media
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